Monthly Archives: July 2009

Paris 2009 – Day 4

For our final day we thought we’d “do the Louvre” …

Our guide book says: ”This is one of the world’s biggest museums, but there’s no way words on a page can convey it’s size.” They are not kidding! Doubt if anyone could ever say they’ve “done the Louvre” even if you lived in Paris and devoted yourself to very little else. We followed the book’s suggested tour, “designed to help you dip your toe into the Louvre’s sea of art”. Three hours later we had certainly dipped our toes and were ready to give them a rest.

Started with Venus de Milo (there are obviously a couple of things you’ve really got to say you’ve seen) and then followed a trail through 2nd and 1st floors of Richelieu before skimming through a bit of Scully en route to Denon and finished up with Mona Lisa. A bit frustrated en route that several things recommended by the tour were out on loan! – but never-the-less enjoyed the experience, seeing lots of nice or at least “interesting” stuff ( to quote from a Tom Paxton song: “I don’t know much about art; but I know what I like!”)

Had a late and slightly disappointing lunch (on our last day, it’s the main meal, since we have to get to the airport early evening) and killed some time listening to a jazz guitar/base duo in the gardens behind Notre Dame, before heading out to CDG.

Good flight home and out through passport control, baggage claim and customs in record time – only to find the car completely devoid of electrical power (“Less than one volt in it,” the AA man informed us, when he stuck his multimeter on the battery.) Arrived home an hour later than we should have, tired but happy. (Pity I needed to be up at 6.30 a.m. for Oulton Park on Saturday!!)

Paris 2009 – Day 3

Boat day — bought tickets for the Batobus and sailed the Seine.
Breakfast was disturbed when we arrived a the cafe to find someone else in Our Seats! – the nerve of some people.
First to nearby fnac.com store on Bde St Germaine to buy tickets for Musee du Louvre tomorrow. Thankfully this place was a lot less hectic than their store at Les Halles yesterday.
Boarded Batobus at Notre Dame and rode down to Jardin des Plantes and back up to the Hotel de Ville stop. Wandered in general direction of the Marais to find a cafe for morning coffee. Found another interesting church (I was going to say "large church" but they mostly seem to be that!) St Gervais is the home base for The Monastic and Lay Communities of Jerusalem — an interesting movement devoted to a mission to "live in the heart of the city, in the heart of God": basically combining a minstry of prayer founded on the monastic tradition but lived in touch with and as part of city life.
Back aboard and up river to Eiffel Tower. Disappointed to find the garden/park area enclosed with high plastic screen fencing and unavailable for our anticipated stroll. Lunched on tourist-priced baguettes and went to catch the boat back down river.
Weather had taken a turn for the worse so we sailed home for a free cuppa in our hotel room and siesta.
Now wondering where to eat tonight …

(update 22:34)
Dinner at Brasserie de l’Isle St-Louise, 55 quai de Bourbon — highly recommended.

Paris 2009 – Day 2

Can’t believe what we paid for two teabags and a jug of hot water this afternoon — just have to tell myself we were paying for the location and the atmosphere (cetainly not for the flavour of the tea!)
Generally, though, a most enjoyable day.
Breakfast at the cafe on the corner (cheaper than the hotel), then set off to have a look at the Pompidou Centre.
Having taken in the interesting, if somewhat strange architecture, we noted the length of the queues and decided not to do the inside on this occasion.
Moved on to explore Les Halles. No doubt this area all looked great in the 60s, or whenever it was done, but as with all that concrete-and-metal architecture of the period, it has not weathered well — now looking pretty grotty, especially in contast to the adjacent spendour of St Eustache.
Had a brief look at the shopping centre beneath Forum Les Halles — think Trafford Centre but three levels below ground instead of above! Didn’t stay long!
Back to one of our favourite bars near Notre Dame for a well-earned beer, followed by ham and cheese crepes for lunch.
Short siesta, interrupted by air-conditioning engineer wanting to check the system; then a wander along Bde St Germaine and the aforesaid highly priced cup of tea.
Dinner at the piano bar on l’Isle St Louis — excellent, as usual.
And so to bed …

Paris 2009 – Day 1

I never cease to be amazed by the size of Paris CDG — fully 6 1/2 minutes from touchdown until we reached the terminal building, and that at a fairly brisk taxi rate. A few minutes of uncertainty when the baggage carousel stopped and announced that baggage delivery was complete before we had actually got our bag; but eventually it restarted and the bag arrived.
Impressed ourselves by using the automatic ticket machine for the RER, rather than standing in the usual long queue, but then spoiled the effect by getting on the all-station-stops commuter train instead of the semi-express.
Eventually reached our destination of St Michel – Notre Dame, and staggered to the hotel with the heavier-than-intended bag — 15 kg gets to be pretty heavy by the time you’ve covered some distance; next time I really will cut down on luggage!
Hotel d’Albe is pretty much unchanged — this year we have room 640 for a change: actually an improvement spacewise, though we’ve lost our view of the river.
Pleasant lunch of omelette mixte at a cafe near Notre Dame — our usual place near by the bridge between the Iles was too quiet and rather draughty.
Heavy rain shower this evening while enjoying a pre-dinner snifter at Le Depart, but it eased up enough for us to dash across Place St Michel to the Pizza Marzana.
Early night seems to be in order, since we were up at 3.00am!